October, 1970. I was in fourth grade. Life was good. Even though I had just turned nine, I wasn't too old to appreciate the cool new kid's show that had just started getting popular: Sesame Street. My friends and I loved it, especially the Muppets - Ernie & Bert, Oscar, Cookie Monster - all awesome. All except Big Bird. Big Bird was stupid.
When Halloween neared, my mom suggested I dress up as Oscar the Grouch. Genius! Mom was super creative, and I always had excellent costumes - most of which we made together. First, mom found an old furry coat and transformed it into Oscar's fur. She then made me some fuzzy Oscar eyebrows that were perfect. We then went to the hardware store and bought a cheap corrugated aluminum trash can. Dad and I cut out the bottom, mounted handles inside, and attached the lid with a hinge. I could climb inside the trash can, walk around, crouch down, and pop up and surprise people. I couldn't wait to try it on someone's porch and yell "trick-or-treat. It was the best costume in the history of costumes.
Halloween was on a Saturday that year, but luckily schools had not obliterated the fun of childhood and we had a Halloween costume party on the Friday before. I was excited. When the time came to change into our costumes, I hurried to get in my outfit quickly so I could surprise people.
I hunkered down in my trash can, with the lid on, and waited until I could hear a lot of voices. This was awesome.
Then I popped up.
"What are you supposed to be?"
"Oscar the Grouch. Duh."
"You don't look like Oscar. Duh."
"Hey look at this - he thinks he's Oscar"
...and It got worse from there. Later that day I dragged my trash can home in abject humiliation. So far I had managed to avoid crying - but it was close. Mom was waiting for me, anxious to see how things went.
"How was your party?"
"How did your costume go over?"
-that is when I finally burst into tears - tears of humiliation, and anger-
"It was the worst costume ever!"
"But I thought you loved it! What happened?"
"Mom - Oscar is GREEN!"
"What do you mean he's green?"
"I mean his fur - he's not GRAY, he's GREEN!"
"Well how in the world was I supposed to know that?"
"If we had a color TV like everyone else, you would have known."
Mom was speechless. We both felt terrible.
The next night I went trick-or-treating in full costume, but as soon as I got around the corner, I took it off, ditched the garbage can behind a fence, and put a sheet over my head and made the rounds as a ghost.
Yup. True story. Worst Halloween ever.
Next Sunday, I will use this story to illustrate some profound gospel truths. But you're gonna have to wait.
Right now I need to go eat the good candy before tomorrow night.